November 17, 2017
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Rags and Bones

By Jonathan Wallace

Confederate Statues

The existence through out the South of Confederate statues and the strange respect being paid them by our sick President and his entourage has enough subtext to be the subject of a 500 page PhD thesis. I can imagine no other context in which a defeated people would be allowed to commemorate generals who led them into carnage, folly and mass suicide. These statues were actually put up after Congress decided to abandon Reconstruction and withdraw all protection of the nation's newly freed black citizens; the statues, most erected in the early twentieth century at the same time as a massive resurgence of the KKK and lynchings, stand as beacons of hate and vengeance. Trump and John Kelly's nattering about "our heritage" makes the hair stand up on my neck.

John Kelly

Kelly has now abandoned his official Narrative of being the grown-up in the room and shown his own true colors. Rather than being a troll grown hydroponically in a tub of stale memes, like the President, he emerges from his basement blinking and original: the spectacle of Kelly calling an African American congresswoman an "empty barrel" was disconcerting and rather pathetic, a child who wants to insult someone grievously but doesn't quite know how.

Twitter Should Fire Trump

This would be very easy to do. Twitter just needs to amend its user policies to say the service should no longer be used for any official government communications. I am sure that would eliminate only a small fraction of users. Why should Twitter bear the burden of being a channel for threats which could start a nuclear war, while potentially incurring legal liabilities and exposure for government misdeeds, as well as archival and other responsibilities?

The Monster Hunting the Doctor

The Republicans are being hunted to death by the monster they created. The playbook revitalized by Newt Gingrich in the 1980's was invented by Senator McCarthy thirty years earlier, starting with the defeat of Senator Millard Tydings due to a composite photograph McCarthy made of Tydings with Communist Party head Earl Browder. There is a through-line to Gingrich's dictionary of phrases to use to describe your Democratic opponent, the impeachment of Bill Clinton, the swift-boating of John Kerry, and the constant description of Barack Obama as a "socialist" about to engineer a coup to maintain power. We just had an interesting case study of this in the recent campaign of a formerly moderate and pro-immigration Republican for Virginia governor, in which he ran ads attacking his adversary of being soft on a murderous South American gang. Although ex-President Bush was widely quoted the other day rejecting this kind of campaigning, nobody mentioned that he stood by and allowed the vicious, dishonest attacks on Kerry. The whole drift has been to allow the experts, funded by the dark money, to do whatever they think will win, no matter how far down it forces us in the airless mud where democracy dies. It seems a natural predictable result that every Republican for several election cycles has feared a challenge from the far right, using against her the same tactics the party's backers have created and financed since McCarthy. Republicans are resigning and retiring in droves to get out of the world they made.

The dead hand

In a short play I wrote years ago, I had a line of dialog of which I am proud: "Let the past not kill the present this one time". Roy Cohn, McCarthy's inventive and malign sidekick, late in life was Donald Trump's mentor--the dead hand of the past reaching out from the grave to strangle the present.


I am not sure if I have ever said here that I don't believe in deficits. The Republicans are not wrong philosophically to dream of a balanced budget. Only the way they want to do it, by abandoning the poor and middle class, and making the billionaires richer, is dreadfully wrong. I don't in the end think nations are that different from individuals. If I can't eternally spend more than I earn, why should the United States be able to do so? When I read Paul Krugman, whom I want so much to like, saying that deficits are not important, I hear a minor functionary saying that the Empire isn't really over.

We are being destroyed not by the welfare state, but by expectations, grandiosity, wars.

Aung San Suu Ki

What a heartbreaking situation, that any moral paradigm who assumes power will countenance a mass murder sooner or later.

Harvey Weinstein

Powerful men in this world still tend to be violent predators. All these centuries of "progress" to culminate in Harvey Weinstein. I think there was a moment early in Lord of the Rings when one of the Hobbits looks into Saruman's face and sees a monster looking out.

When in the 1970's I worked in community outreach in a Congressional office, I remember reading a file about a young woman who had been raped by the son of a powerful local politician. The police wouldn't investigate. We, federal, above the fray, concluded we had no influence on sick, corrupt state and city affairs. My boss was a woman, surrounded by federal men many of whom were predators too.

Spectacle of the month

Reprinted almost without comment, here is Tucker Carlson nattering that the use of bump stocks by the Las Vegas shooter saved lives:

"Many more would've died actually because if you talk to people who know a lot about guns they say pros don't even fire on fully automatic because they can't hit anything".


Just when you think we may have hit bottom morally, it gets worse....we are now deporting some noncitizen veterans of our armed forces instead of giving them citizenship.